Making the most of London this winter break

8 December 2023

Are you spending the winter break in London? Student Support and Wellbeing present the cosiest events in the capital this festive season.

Night on Oxford Street in London with bus and Christmas lights

Enjoying some downtime and spending time with loved ones are equally important for your wellbeing. Whether you’re socialising with friends or recharging after Term 1, we’ve created a list of budget-friendly activities for any occasion. 

Festive markets 

There’s no better way to get into the festive spirit than sipping a warm drink and strolling through a winter market. Wrap up warm and explore one (or all) of these markets. All are free on entry. 

  • Crafty Fox Markets (Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th December 2023). Located at the Granary Building in King’s Cross and Mercato Metropolitano, visit this market to stock up cosy hand-crafted goodies.  
  • Southbank Centre Winter Market (until Tuesday 26th December 2023). As part of their annual Winter Festival, this market offers wooden chalets filled with yuletide gifts. Keep an eye out for the fabulous free events hosted at the Southbank Centre throughout the season. 
  • Winter by the River at London Bridge (until Monday 1st January 2024). Further along the Southbank you can visit each pop-up lining the riverside by London Bridge City and find a delicious drink in Hay’s Galleria. 
  • Christmas in Leicester Square and Covent Garden (until Sunday 7th January 2024). The square is transformed into a wonderland. You’ll find circus and cabaret performances in one of the tents (see if you can spot it!). A short walk from Leicester Square you’ll find the Covent Garden Christmas Tree, daily snow showers and treats galore in the Christmas Village. 

Look no further than Camden Market, Borough Market and Spitalfields Market to sample traditional raclette cheese, minced pies, a warming Humble Crumble and endless variations on the classic hot chocolate. 

City lights and walks 

Whilst the infamous Oxford Street and Carnaby Street lights never fail to amaze, Christmas at Kew Gardens is well worth the journey. Before you leave, walk through Richmond Park to spot some deer.  

Christmas at Outernet London offer their Enchanted Snow Globe for an immersive digital delight. If you enjoy discovering London’s hidden gems, join Student Support and Wellbeing for a Winter Walk as part of our Beat the January Blues events campaign. 


London offers a magical array of ice-skating rinks during the winter season, creating a festive and enchanting atmosphere for visitors and locals alike. Our top picks for ice-skating venues in London include:  

  • Winter Wonderland Ice Rink (Monday 1st January 2024). As part of the Winter Wonderland festivities, this ice rink in Hyde Park offers a lively and festive atmosphere. Enjoy the Christmas market whilst you’re there, too. 
  • Somerset House Ice Rink (until Tuesday 2nd January 2024). Skate against the picturesque backdrop of Somerset House on The Strand. The rink often hosts special events, including late-night sessions and music nights. 
  • Hampton Court Palace Ice Rink (until Sunday 7th January 2024). Glide on the ice with breathtaking views of Hampton Court Palace. The historic Tudor palace adds a unique charm to your skating experience. 

Museums and galleries 

Take a break and enjoy London’s world-renowned galleries and museums this winter. Visit the free exhibitions hosted by Tate Modern (St Paul’s), Tate Britain (Pimlico), The National Gallery (Trafalgar Square), the V&A, Natural History Museum or the Science Museum (South Kensington). Don’t forget your student card to verify your concession, and check the website ahead of time to see if you need to book in advance. 

Interested in engineering, landscape architecture and design? You're in luck. The Museum of Architecture's Gingerbread City is back. Just don't try and take a bite!  

Theatre and cinema 

Whether you’d like to see a musical, Shakespeare play or festive pantomime, you can often access discounted tickets on the day of the performance. Visit London Theatre District, TKTS in Leicester Square or TodayTix for some brilliant offers. 

Peckhamplex in (you guessed it) Peckham, offers all cinema tickets at £5. Watch a new movie or an old Christmas film without breaking the bank.  


Doing good can also do you good. Even the smallest of actions can have a big impact on those in need. Students’ Union UCL has a fantastic list of one-off volunteering opportunities open to students, while Crisis at Christmas is looking for volunteers to support their Crisis Christmas Centres.  

Pro tips for student discounts  

Did you know you can stretch your budget and enjoy incredible savings? Explore the world of student discounts available at your fingertips on Unidays, Totum and Student Beans to name a few.  

With any museum, gallery or cultural institution, it’s well worth looking at what they offer in terms of membership. The Tate Collective and the Royal Opera House Young ROH programme for under 25s are just a couple of the significant discounts for people aged 16-25.  

Support over the break 

There are plenty of ways to get support over the winter break.

Read tips from The Student Space around staying at university over the winter break.